Bye Bye Bennigan's

Since I moved to Cedar Rapids from Iowa City in 2002, including when I lived in Waterloo, my friend Homercles and I have taken each other out to dinner for our birthdays. With just a few exceptions, the dinner has always been at the Bennigan's at Lindale Mall. Now I just read a news story on KCRG-TV9's website saying that Bennigan's, as well as three other stores, will be leaving Lindale Mall by the end of next month. In fact, he, Mel, and I had dinner there just last week. We even have a Bennigan's gift card that we still have a balance on. I suppose we better get back soon to use it, otherwise we'll have to drive down to the Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville to use up the balance of the card as that is the closest Bennigan's location other than the one at Lindale Mall. To make this even more disappointing, Weight Watchers recently has begun including points values for some Bennigan's items on its website and in the new edition of its dining out points guide. Maybe something good will replace it though.

Evaluating My 2007 New Year's Resolutions and Some Resolutions for 2008

My first blog posting of the year, on January 2, listed three New Year's resolutions that I came up with to improve my life. Now as the year is drawing to a close, I can only find it appropriate to evaluate how I did on my resolutions.

My first resolution was to cut back on the amount of soda I drink, limiting myself to just twenty-four ounces each day. Well, that resolution was a bust! Most days at work, I begin my day by walking across the parking lot to the Subway restaurant where my coworkers and I can get soda refills in thirty-two-ounce or larger cups for just twenty seven cents! I rarely skip that.

I did make some progress though on my second resolution, to lose weight. My goal was to get my weight down to 200 pounds on my birthday, October 20. I almost succeeded in reaching that goal. A few weeks prior to my birthday, my weight was down to 199 pounds, but by my birthday it was back up to 202.8 pounds. As of my weigh-in on Wednesday of last week, my weight was at 201.8 pounds. It was significantly higher this past Wednesday, although it was still under 210 pounds.

The final resolution I made was to exercise more, at least twenty minutes per day, three days a week. I don't think I ever reached that goal. I did exercise more when I began Weight Watchers at the end of April, but that has dropped off quite a bit.

Now that I have evaluated how I did on this past year's New Year's resolutions, I am going to come up with some for 2008. Some of these will be very similar to my resolutions for 2007.
  1. Drink less pop! Currently I probably drink in excess of 100 ounces of pop each day on average. While this is all diet pop, that still can not be healthy. I'm not going to quit cold turkey, but I am going to begin easing off the pop as the year begins. My goal is to drink an average of 40 or fewer ounces of pop per day each week by the end of February.
  2. I am going to continue watching my weight and get it down to 195 pounds. This shouldn't be too tough as I am less than 15 pounds from this goal. My timeline for this goal involves losing an average of half a pound each week, a very doable rate. Hopefully the final pounds I wish to shed will come off a bit faster than that.
  3. I still need to exercise more. This year for Christmas, Mel got me a pedometer. I have used it the past three days, and except for today when I worked from home, I walked over 7,000 steps each day. I would like to average 10,000 steps per day each week. I want to achieve this goal by the end of February as well.
  4. I also need to exercise more using the elliptical trainer and the Bowflex. I want to use these at least three days each week.

Now I know that New Year's resolutions seem to be made to be broken, but I think I can do it this year if I put my mind to it.

I Love Our Neighborhood!

We live in a really nice neighborhood. When Mel, Emma, and I returned home Christmas evening, after being gone for three and a half days, I was expecting to have to clear away the eight or so inches of snow that had fallen since leaving Saturday morning for Mel's parents' house. We were quite surprised to find that the snow had been cleared away, not only from our sidewalk, but also from our driveway. Our neighbor, two houses down the street, Pete, will occasionally use his snow blower to clear the snow from the sidewalk all the way to the end of the block, so that wasn't as much of a surprise as finding or clean driveway was. I suspected that he had been the one who did it. As I was unloading our truck, Dean, our neighbor across the street confirmed my suspicion. So today, while I was snow blowing the freshly-fallen snow from our sidewalk and driveway, I went over to Pete's house to personally thank him as he was out finishing up some shoveling of snow from his property. I got into a nice conversation with Pete. I have lived plenty of places, but I think this is the only place I have lived with neighbors who would be this helpful.

New Foods

On Thursday of last week, Mel took Emma to the doctor for her nine-month check-up. While there we were told that Emma should now be eating stage three foods instead of the stage two foods we had been feeding her. So the past week, we have begun feeding Emma some Gerber Stage 3 baby food. Emma hadn't had any problems recently with the stage two foods she had been eating, but getting her to eat the stage three foods has been a bit of a struggle, especially the chunkier foods.

I have tried a couple different techniques to get Emma to eat her chunkier stage three foods the past couple days before coming up with a plan which worked quite well tonight. First, I let Emma play with a second spoon. When she tried to put her spoon in her mouth, I stuck the spoon with the food on it into her mouth. Next, I noticed that when I wiped her face with a damp paper towel to clean her up, she would open her mouth, so I started doing that, inserting the spoon of food when her mouth was open. That worked alright, but she caught on pretty quickly. Finally this evening, while trying to feed her the Gerber broccoli and carrots with cheese, I started alternating spoonfuls of the vegetables with spoonfuls of banana, which she likes. This actually seemed to work quite well. I will have to try it again tomorrow. Hopefully though, she will soon begin to actually like the chunkier vegetables and meat entrees.


Back to Work

I actually should have made this posting yesterday as I had to return to work already on Wednesday, the day after Christmas. However, I am only working during the morning this week. I am using the rest of my vacation time for the afternoons this week since Mel has to work evenings this week and Emma's daycare provider is taking the week off.

Yesterday for lunch, Mel, Emma, and I got together for lunch with Homercles as well as my friend from Las Vegas, Anna, at the Irish Democrat. It was good to see them, especially since Anna doesn't make it back to Cedar Rapids too often. Hopefully Mel and I will be able to go out to Las Vegas sometime this spring on vacation and we'll be able to see her then.

It was pretty quiet at work today since there are not many people here. I did get quite a bit of work done this morning as I listened to the CD I gave Mel for Christmas, the Jolly Rogers' live album, No Refunds. I have to say that it is quite an enjoyable CD. I also put out some of the things I got for Christmas, such as my Bad President daily calendar. It's actually a sixteen-month calendar, so I had to remove all the pages from mid-September, when the calendar began, until today. The calendar even goes twenty days into next year, ending on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009.

If you read my blog regularly, you may have noticed that I skipped my weekly Wednesday Weight Watchers posting. Well, let's just say that the Christmas weekend was not very good for my diet. I will be getting back on track this week and plan on resuming the Weight Watchers postings next Wednesday, January 2, 2008.


Holiday Weekend

I got a slightly early start to the Christmas holiday weekend today when one of the vice presidents at work walked around the office this afternoon telling everyone not to "stay too late." I took this as a code for "go ahead and go home." So I went home early.

We are also getting an early start to our travels this weekend. We had planned on going to my parents-in-law's house on Sunday. however, with the winter storm and the several inches of ice and snow that it is predicted to dump on us, we have decided that we should leave for their house in Humboldt, Iowa, tomorrow morning instead.

While I would have loved to stay home an extra day, and sleep in my own bed for another night, on the plus side, leaving early than we planned means that there is one less day that I will have to deal with political campaigns calling.


Weight Watchers Week 34

All I can say about this past week is this: too many Christmas cookies and chocolates! I really wish my weigh-in day had been yesterday, because yesterday morning my weight was only up 0.4 pound from last week to 200.8 pounds. This morning however, my weight was up an additional 1.0 pound to a total of 201.8 pounds! This next week will be pretty tough with family Christmas celebrations three days in a row beginning on Sunday. And today I will have to stay focused on what I eat at the holiday potluck at work for lunch, and on what I have for dinner at Bennigan's with my friend Homercles tonight. If I don't lose any weight this upcoming week but am able to maintain instead, I will be happy.


Too Busy to Blog

I feel like I have been too busy to blog lately. This weekend I was especially busy. Saturday morning I donated a pint of blood at the American Red Cross blood drive in town. I had been scheduled to give blood at the blood drive at work last month, but I was sick then and was unable to give blood. As my blood type is O-, my blood is in high demand, and while I really hate needles, I am more than happy to put up with them to give blood. It doesn't cost me anything, and it can help others. After my blood donation, I had a few errands to run before returning home.

In the afternoon on Saturday, Mel, Emma, and I went out shopping once again to get the very last things we needed to get before Christmas. While we were shopping at Lindale Mall, we stopped so Emma could visit with Santa Claus. We got her photo taken with him, shown below. She was really good for Santa. It only took two shots before we were able to get a photo of her smiling, although Santa did have to pull her left hand out of her mouth!

Sunday was a somewhat busy day as well. After church in the morning, we took a photo for our Christmas cards. I picked up the cards this morning from Walgreens and plan on getting them out in the mail tomorrow morning on my way to work. Mel and I also went shopping separately in the afternoon. I went shopping for groceries, while Mel, along with Emma, finished up some Christmas shopping for which I could not be present.


Weight Watchers Week 33

My weight loss continued this week with a loss of an additional 0.6 pound, bringing my weight down to 200.4 pounds, for a net change of 31.0 pounds in the past 33 weeks. This does bring my average weight loss to less than one pound per week, but I suppose that is a healthy rate at which to lose weight. From what I have ready, a rapid weight loss is more difficult to sustain over time. Now I have just 5.4 more pounds to lose before I reach my goal of 195 pounds!


A Couple More Ice Storm Photos

Here are a couple more photos from today's ice storm in Cedar Rapids.

The first shows the DirecTV sattelites on the roof of our house, covered with ice.

This second photo shows the tree in our front yard covered with ice.

Ice Ice Baby

The results of freezing rain can be beautiful. I'm just glad that I don't have to go back out in it today! I took a short break from my work earlier this morning and stepped outside to check out the weather. As I was outside taking a few photos of the ice on the trees, I kept hearing snapping sounds in the background as branches broke from trees in the neighborhood and fell to the ground. I also heard what I thought was crackling sounds coming from a nearby electrical transformer, but I am not sure about that. Fortunately I sill have electricity. Without it, it would be pretty challenging to get any work done from home today.

The Weather Outside Is Frightful

And because of the weather, I'll be working from home today. I spent most of yesterday at work unpacking into my new cubicle. It naturally looks very much like my old cubicle, but for some reason, there is a very different feel to it. Currently I can not open one of my filing cabinets because it is locked shut, and the lock has yet to be installed. Hopefully they get that done today or tomorrow so once I am back in the office I can move things from the overhead bin into the file cabinet where it belongs.


Friday Wrap-Up

I was able to make it to work just fine as the roads had been cleaned up pretty well from the snow the day before. It was not a very productive day at work however. Oh, I did get a significant amount of work done, but a group of nine of us went to HuHot in Coralville for lunch as it was the last day in the office for one of my coworkers. It was the person with whom I used to carpool. She is moving to the Dallas, Texas, area this weekend, and will be working from home from now on. Upon returning to the office following out extended lunch, I finished up some work and then completed the packing of my office since the movers are coming this weekend to move our belongings to our new cubicle locations within the building. I'll be having a lot of fun on Monday unpacking all of my stuff and getting everything set up, ready to get some work done.

Because we had to be all packed by 4:00, I was able to leave work early yesterday. Since everything was packed, it would have been pretty challenging to do any work. I was actually done packing by 3:15, so I left at that time.

After I got home, Mel, Emma, and I went across town to do some Christmas shopping. We just about have all of our gift shopping complete now. I do have a couple of things to pick up today, but that should be it. We also stopped by FedEx to pick up a delivery that couldn't be left since neither of us was home when they attempted to make a delivery yesterday afternoon. It was our new cell phones. On Sunday, when our contract with U.S. Cellular is up, we are going to activate the service on our new LG cell phones from Verizon Wireless.



Most of this afternoon snow fell across eastern Iowa. That meant that what is normally a thirty-five-minute commute home from Iowa City to Cedar Rapids took about an hour and a half! For most of my drive, I did not exceed thirty-five miles per hour, and for the first half of the drive, my speed was significantly slower. It took me twenty minutes to go from the exit on Interstate 80 that is next to the Coral Ridge Mall to the exit from I-80 to I-35! That is a distance of just a few miles.

Hopefully the roads are better in the morning. If the roads are really bad, I could normally work from home, but I do need to go into the office tomorrow. We are moving cubicles at work and we have to have everything packed up by 4:00 tomorrow afternoon. I don't have much left to do, but I still have to get it all finished up. In fact, the rest of the packing that I need to do will take less than half an hour. I'm sure the roads will be better by morning though, so this is probably just a moot point.


Weight Watchers Week 32

I did much better this week with watching what I ate, losing 1.4 pounds bringing my weight down to 201.0 pounds. This makes the difference from my starting weight 30.4 pounds. Now I have just 6 pounds to go to reach my goal of 195 pounds!


Upset with Pizza Hut

Around 5:30 this evening, Mel and I decided to order a pizza from out local Pizza Hut on Mount Vernon Road in Cedar Rapids. I placed the order through the Pizza Hut website. Shortly afterward, I received an email indicating that the pizza would be ready for pickup around 5:50. Well, at that time, I drove to the Pizza Hut only to learn that they were closed. Apparently they closed at 5:00 due to the bad weather. I thought that it would have been nice to have been informed that they were closed, either by phone or email, shortly after placing the order. Well, some time during my drive back home, the store called home to let us know that they were closed. We ended up getting a pizza from Papa Murphy's instead.